Most people tend to cross the bridge when they come to it, which means that only when a certain problem shows up on the threshold and starts knocking at one’s door is it likely to be solved. However, in some cases, it may be too late to look for possible solutions. That’s why considering crucial decisions beforehand is a valuable skill. There are hundreds of things we need to plan in advance, one of which is creating a living will.
In our article, we will explain in what situation the document may come in handy, guide you through the process of drawing up the form, provide information about laws and requirements regulating the document in New York, and throw light on many other details that we hope you will find insightful.
What is a Living Will Form?
Some people may confuse the names of the two documents: the last will and a living will. Unlike a last will and testament, a living will doesn’t deal with the distribution of property and doesn’t allow one to name a guardian for minor children. The document grants a person the right to express their healthcare and end-of-life wishes in writing, which must be fulfilled when you experience difficult medical situations (such as irreversible coma, permanent unconscious state, or other incurable physical or mental condition), and assigns a third person they trust most to make these decisions on their behalf. Besides, a living will, as its name implies, becomes effective before one dies. Thus, there are two main aspects in which these two documents differ: the time when the papers are executed and their functions.
In New York State, a living will and a health care proxy (the document that grants an adult individual the right to act as an agent for another individual and to make decisions related to medical treatment) are separate forms, but, usually, the latter is attached to the former. Although it is optional to assign an agent, you should be aware of the fact that life is complex, and you can’t anticipate all possible outcomes. An agent can speak for you even when something unpredictable happens, but they must always act in accordance with your interests.
In New York, the whole package of documents by which you make provisions for future healthcare decisions in case your condition is incurable is called Advance Directives. Apart from a health care proxy and a living will, it includes a DNR form (also known as the Do Not Resuscitate Order), which is completed by a doctor.
There is no standard template for a living will in New York. It means that you can take/ download any template or generate your own one. The only requirement is that your living will should be clear and convincing. As long as the directions are specific, the form is acceptable and, thus, legal. Avoid vague instructions which you might have left to your family members, like “Don’t keep me on machines” or “Make sure I’m not in pain.” We encourage you to consult with an attorney to make sure that the document is as clear as possible.
Essential Recommendations on Creating and Keeping the Form
Regarding the immense importance of the document, we advise you to keep it in a safe place and distribute copies among your family members, health care providers, etc.
If you decide to prepare a living will but do not know what to begin with, use the following plan:
- Imagine a situation in which you are unable to speak for yourself, and there is no chance for improvement and write down your wishes concerning the way you want to be treated in such a situation. Make sure that these wishes are consistent with your beliefs and values.
- Discuss your wishes and plans with your loved ones, family, doctors. They should know about the kind of care you want to receive in a complex situation. Besides, they might suggest something you have not considered yet.
- Put your directions in writing and create a living will.
- Check your local laws and requirements and make sure that the form is created in accordance with the statutes.
New York Laws and Requirements
Mind that there are no laws regulating living wills in the state of New York. However, a health care proxy, which can go along with the document, is governed by Article 29-C of NY PBH Law. When creating any type of advance directive form, you can refer to these statutes.
If you decide to attach a medical power of attorney to your form, make sure that you follow all the requirements outlined in PHB §2981-2994. Thus, it is necessary to be completely healthy to evaluate your views on end-of-life treatment in the most efficient way and understand every detail regarding the process perfectly.
According to the NY statutes, only adults with sufficient competence can create a New York living will and appoint a healthcare agent to fulfill wishes set out in the living will. The paper can be written and signed by another individual if the person has physical disabilities or, for any other reason, is unable to create the form on their own. Even though a New York Health Care Proxy form is optional, we highly recommend appointing a representative to speak on your behalf.
As the law states, two adult and competent witnesses are required to sign an advance directive form. The person who serves as a proxy cannot act as a witness and execute the health care proxy. Patients of facilities for people with mental problems are to have their doctor or another qualified psychiatrist to act as a witness.
According to PHB §2981, if you consider completing a health care proxy, there are certain limitations set on a health care agent. The person chosen to make decisions on behalf of the patient must not be the health treatment provider or employee of the health care facility where the principal resides. Even blood relatives cannot be appointed as agents if they already act as such for ten principals.
Once all of the essential terms mentioned above are considered, one can initiate the Living Will Form’s creation.
Key Steps for Creating a Living Will in New York
There are six mandatory steps one needs to take to draw up a New York Living Will:1. Enter Your Personal Info
The first thing you are to do is to write your full name, address, and telephone number. By completing this part, you give your consent to making decisions concerning life-prolonging and end-of-life treatment on your behalf if you completely lose the ability to do so.2. Appoint a Proxy
Then, enter the full legal name of the agent who will deal with medical decisions. Besides the name, write the proxy’s residential address and leave their contact information (a telephone number).3. Specify Your Attitude to Life-Sustaining Methods
In the next part, you need to give healthcare instructions. You are to make a choice whether to refuse particular procedures or keep a certain treatment (like artificial nutrition, antibiotics, respiration, etc.).4. Leave Instructions Regarding Pain Alleviation
In this section, specify whether or not you want pain relief methods to be applied to you.5. Specify the State
Indicate by the laws of which state the form is regulated (if it is a general template). In this part, you also demand that your wishes should be respected in all states in which you may reside.6. Provide Signatures
The document needs to be signed and dated by the principal and two competent witnesses. It is also mandatory for the witnesses to write their addresses and telephone numbers.